I have been fascinated by electron transfer reactions that support bacterial metabolism for many years. Recently, my lab members and I have become interested in understanding how bacteria generate energy when they are growing slowly–doubling once every few days or weeks–the dominate pace of life on the planet, yet one that is poorly understood. One clever solution some bacteria employ to generate energy when oxidants are scarce is to produce and recycle redox-active pigments. This process appears to be particularly relevant for biofilms, aggregates of cells that reach a high cell density in diverse contexts, from the rhizosphere to chronic infections. We hope our research into microbial energy generation under anoxic conditions may one day lead to new strategies to control microbial communities.

Awards and Achievements

  • National Academy of Science Award in Molecular Biology ( 2016)
  • MacArthur Fellowship ( 2016)